Signage at center of debate in Harmony

March 7, 2019 Cranberry Local News

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HARMONY — The borough mayor may exercise her right to veto on a council-approved motion — but will it make a difference?

At Tuesday night's borough council meeting, Harmony Mayor Cathy Rape told council members that she plans to veto a motion to take down a “no parking” sign near the Harmony Inn and replace it with a “handicap” parking sign, which was there previously.

The parking area mostly impacts a 90-year-old resident of 714 Spring St. who does not have a driveway and whose relatives frequently visit to help him pay bills, buy groceries and complete other daily tasks.

In a 6-1 vote, council approved the motion to make the turnaround area near Harmony Inn a handicapped parking zone again.

Councilman Jason Sarver was the only council member to vote against the motion to replace the “no parking” sign. However, he said he wasn't against addressing the family's needs and would prefer to make the space a “loading zone” to allow for pickup and drop-off of the resident. This would call for a different ordinance than the one proposed, which influenced Sarver's negative vote.

“I don't think Cathy nor I are ignoring their needs,” Sarver said.

Council member Don Sims recommended letting the veto stand and rewriting the ordinance to match Sarver's idea of creating a loading zone in that area. But it would take another two months for a changed ordinance to take effect, Council President Greg Such said.

Such said he stands by returning the area to handicapped parking because the man is elderly and the borough can simply remove that sign and ordinance when the time comes that it is no longer needed.

Rape said she believes the handicapped sign was removed “for a reason” and that traffic and parking issues in that area should be the focus of the borough's concerns, rather than alleviating issues at a residence. Rape suggested a driveway could be added.

“Anybody can use (a handicapped space),” she said, noting that the addition of a driveway would ensure no one could take the handicapped space. “It was originally put there because they drove. It was a consideration of their need.”

Now that the resident is no longer driving, Rape maintains that the handicapped sign shouldn't be replaced.

Borough Solicitor Matthew Racunas explained that if the mayor vetoes the motion, it will be returned to the board to vote a second time, at which point the council will need to achieve a majority vote with five votes to override the veto and pass the handicapped parking ordinance for that space.

The residence affected by the no parking area is owned by the McCormick family, members of which were present at the previous two council meetings to bring this issue to the council's attention. The family was absent from Tuesday night's meeting.

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Alexandria Mansfield

Alexandria Mansfield

Alexandria Mansfield is a community reporter at the Cranberry Eagle. She worked as a freelance reporter before joining the Eagle staff in July 2018. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania's journalism and public relations department in 2018 and from Wellsboro Area High School in 2015. While at IUP, she served as a reporter and editor at The Penn, the university's student-run, twice-weekly newspaper, and earned first place awards from Pennsylvania News Media Association and Pittsburgh Black Media Federation in 2017 and 2018, respectively, for her news coverage and investigative reporting.